MADISON - The No. 16 Wisconsin Badgers lost on Senior day for the first time under head coach Bo Ryan, falling to the Purdue Boilermakers 69-56 Sunday afternoon in the Kohl Center. It was an epic collapse for the Badgers (20-9, 11-5 Big Ten), who scored just 20 points in the second half after leading the Boilermakers 36-31 at halftime.
The Badgers shot just 29.6 percent from the floor in the second half, including a terrible 0-for-12 slump on 3-point shots. The Boilermakers also out-rebounded the Badgers 39-27, and scored 26 points in the paint to Wisconsin's 18. It was just the second win over a ranked opponent this season for the Boilermakers (14-15, 7-9), who finished the game shooting 45.6 percent from the floor.
"This was something where if you're missing shots, the basket gets smaller, you get a little tighter, maybe force a few passes there that we shouldn't have," Ryan said after the game. "But those things happen as a result of the other team getting some other things done. And then you're scratching and clawing and some groups are better at scratching and clawing than others.
"For us to get into that kind of a hole, that's pretty tough to come back from."
It was a disappointing night for Wisconsin's senior class in general, as Jared Berggren, Ryan Evans, and Mike Bruesewitz combined for 25 points in their Kohl Center finale. Berggren and Bruesewitz in particular had rough nights from the floor. They shot just 5-for-18 in the game, including 1-of-9 on 3-pointers. Evans was the lone bright spot, finishing the game with 10 points and 7 rebounds on 4-of-6 shooting.
A major turning point came when the Badgers allowed the Boilermakers to cut an 11-point lead to just 5 right before halftime. The Badgers didn't score at all in the final seven minutes of the first half, and that allowed the Boilermakers to bring themselves back into the game.
"We just didn't step on their throats when we needed to," Bruesewitz said. "We had a little bit of a shooting drought there at the end of the first half and they closed the half better than us.
"We never got it back. It kind of tail-spinned."
The loss also dealt the Badgers' Big Ten title hopes a major blow. The Badgers fell into a two-way tie for third place in the conference with No. 16 Ohio State, and are now two games out of first place with two games left to play.
Wisconsin could still win a share of the Big Ten title if conference-leader Indiana drops its next two games and the Badgers beat No. 9 Michigan State and Penn State on the road. But as of now it seems like they'll be fighting to hang on to a first-day bye in the Big Ten tournament. The Badgers will likely need to at least split their next two games, along with No. 4 Michigan dropping at least one game.
"Its tough," Berggren said. "This is a pretty big loss for us. That hurts."
The Badgers' next game is scheduled for Thursday night, when they'll travel to East Lansing, Mich., to take on the Spartans in the Breslin Center. That game is scheduled to top off at 8 p.m. CST.
For more Wisconsin Badgers news, notes and discussion, follow John on Twitter.